Ask LH: Are Custom ROMs Worth Having On A Nexus Phone?

Dear Lifehacker, I’ve rooted my Galaxy Nexus using your guide, but now everyone tells me I should flash a custom ROM. What’s the point? Don’t people flash custom ROMs to get the stock Android ROM the Nexus already has? Sincerely, Wondering Why

Dear Wondering,

For most users, getting a “stock” ROM is one of the big draws of rooting. However, it’s not the the only reason you would flash a ROM. Heck, some people flash custom ROMs that keep HTC’s Sense interface or Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. So why flash? Here are some of the biggest benefits to flashing a ROM, even on a Nexus device.

You Get the Latest Updates

As we know all too well, not all Nexus devices have the latest version of Android. Ridiculous, right? The Galaxy Nexus on Telstra, for example, is still stuck on Ice Cream Sandwich. And, of course, older Nexus devices won’t get upgraded forever, so those users will need custom ROMs to bring them up to speed on the latest iterations of Android.

You Get Extra Features and Tweaks

The biggest draw of custom ROMs are all the other features they bring. They aren’t just stock Android — they are stock Android with lots of other very handy features added by the community. For example, here are some of the features you might find in custom ROMs:

  • CyanogenMod (and other ROMs based on it) add the ability to launch up to four other apps from the lockscreen slider, adds settings toggles and “Quick Reply” options in the notification bar.
  • The AOKP ROM offers lots of customisation options, making it easy to theme your ROM, choose different boot animations, and change the colour of your widgets and interface elements. Also, unicorns.
  • ParanoidAndroid is a popular ROM based off CyanogenMod with the addition of something called “Hybrid Mode”, which lets you run your OS or just certain apps in tablet or phablet mode. This can give you extra screen space on your phone and make certain apps better to navigate.

These are just a few examples, but there are a lot of other features you will find in any given ROM. Often, you will even find features from one ROM integrated into another ROM, so you can try out a few and see which one works for you.

The bottom line is that flashing a custom ROM gives you extra features that you won’t find in stock Android. If you haven’t tried one out yet, I highly recommend it — if you don’t like it, you can go back to stock at any time. You’re bound to find a few features you didn’t even know you wanted until you had them.


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